Every night at an Olympic Trials meet has a fair bit of drama, but few could surpass the show that the Canadian swimmers delivered on the penultimate night of competition in Montreal at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Trials, presented by RBC.
The evening started much as expected, with Joe Bartoch (LAC) winning the Men's 100 Fly in a time of 53.01, cheered on by a boisterous cheering section that came in to watch him. Stefan Hirniak (IS) was able to manage the bronze medal in the event, while Jake Tapp (LOSC) was barely behind him for fourth.
Julia Wilkinson (IS) then proceeded to continue on her impressive results at this meet, winning her third event - women's 100 Free, defeating the hometown favourite, Victoria Poon, who finished second, as well as Canadian record-holder in the event, Erica Morningstar.
FINA sets a minimum time standard for relays at the Olympics, so to be able to invite a dedicated relay team, the combined time of the top four swimmers have to be under that FINA standard. As it turned out, the top four finishers were under the FINA cut, meaning that Heather MacLean (VAND), by virtue of her third-place finish, was named to the team.
Tobias Oriowol (TSC) then won the men's 200 Back, which lead into the race that was probably the most hotly anticipated here - the women's 200 Breastroke. With all eight women with the potential to go under the FINA Olympic Qualifying Time, it promised to be a great race, and indeed it was.
Martha McCabe (VAND) took the lead from the start, but with her training mate, Tera Van Beilen close behind the whole way. Van Beilen had a great final 50m, though, coming from almost a half-second down at 150m to win in 2:24.03 to McCabe's 2:24.81, both well under the OQT, meaning that both qualify for London.
It's worth noting that Kierra Smith (LLSC), who finished fourth, less than 2/10ths out of a medal, was also under the OQT, having dropped over a second from her PB coming into the meet - just a phenomenal swim.
World-record holder in the event, Annamay Pierse (VAND) finished in fifth, ending her chances to make the Olympic team, while her sister, Hanna (VAND) finished in eighth.
The nightcap for the "A" finals was the women's 800 Free, and while the distance free races are sometimes dull to watch, at high-level competition, it just more time for drama to develop.
Savannah King (VAND), already on the team from her performance in the 400 earlier in the week, took command ofthe rae early and never looked back. The race behind her for second place, though, was where the drama was unfolding. Alexa Komarnycky (IS), for whom this was her last shot at the team, would need to go under 8:33.84, and finish at second behind King to make the team.
Her pacing had her right on the bubble to make the time, with her needing a great last 50m to pull it off. But then there was Brittany MacLean a couple lanes over, doing her best to overtake Komarnycky. In the end, Komarnycky's 31.09 on the final 50m was enough to hold off MacLean, and that 31.09 also had her hit the touchpad in 8:33.32 to claim a spot on the team.
Sherry Liu (HYACK), the other BC swimmer in the final, finished sixth in 8:49.51.
In the Paralympic events, Jana Murphy (IS) bettered her national record in the women's para-100 Breast with a time of 1:28.15, while finished second in that event. Nathan Stein (SKSC) took the silver in the men's para-100 Fly, while Donovan Tildesley (VAND) was the sixth-place finsher in the event. Stein's teammate, Kyle McMahon was the top finisher in the men's S1-S7 50 Fly.